An emotional and overjoyed group of friends gathered to welcome home one of their own: a smiling, healthier Baby Daniel Estell Jr. The family was scheduled to arrive Saturday December 18th, 2010, but a delay in flight left them stranded overnight in El Salvador.
But after so many months of not knowing the fate of much-loved baby Daniel, one more day wouldn't dampen the spirits of those who waited. On Sunday, December 19th, the eager crowd didn't have to wait long, as the Tropic Air plane touched down and prepared to unload passengers. The first peek at a remarkably healthy and happy baby came when he looked out the window where his dad sat holding him. He excitedly touched the glass, smiling and bouncing energetically. Everyone was eager to see him, and family members rushed to greet them as they came off the tarmac.
With an ever-present wide, cheeky smile, Daniel Jr. is the exact opposite of the baby that lay in a hospital bed for months ago, with an uncertain future ahead of him. Thanks to a perseverant family and the San Pedro community, who rallied and did everything within their powers to raise funds and offer moral support, that tiny, frail baby is just a memory. Now, he is a 1-year old bundle of energy and joy, having celebrated his first birthday on November 27th in Colombia, where his life was saved.
Shortly after his birth, Baby Daniel Estell Jr. was diagnosed with Biliary Atresia, a rare liver disorder that had him fighting for his life. The first attempt to surgically correct the problem in Mexico unfortunately failed, so the next move was to the US. For weeks, everyone rallied around this baby, whose future was undetermined as financial issues prevented him from getting much-needed treatment. Never ones to lose faith, the Spain, Estell, Guerrero and the Isla Bonita family were heartened to hear that Colombia would perform the operation. With Daniel Estell Sr. a compatible donor for his son, both underwent surgery on August 18th, 2010. The operation was deemed a major success. Almost four months to the day of his surgery, Baby Daniel, accompanied by beaming parents Ilda Guerrero and Daniel Estell Sr., finally came home - just in time for Christmas!
The San Pedro Sun caught up with his mother Ilda, who is so overjoyed at having her baby healthier than before. She is very happy to finally be home after so many gut-wrenching months. "I just would like to thank everyone, a todo San Pedro, for their help, donations, and prayers. [Everyone] was a huge help, and without them, we wouldn't have [Daniel] home."
Baby Daniel will be able to live a long, healthy and normal life. However, as Ilda explained, there is much that they must do to keep Daniel Jr. that way. In his first year after surgery, his defense system is frail, and he will need monthly check-ups. Those will take place in Guatemala up until March, when he must travel once more to Colombia. If all is well after the first year, the checkups will be less frequent. During this first year, precautions to keep him safe include limited interaction with the public and maintaining a healthy environment around him at all times. Baby Daniel will also have to take anti-rejection medication for the rest of his life. According to his mother, after the surgery and the ups and downs he has experienced in the short year of his life, "a pill a day is a welcome relief..."
San Pedro Sun